In Case You Missed It: White House Trade Advisor Warns of Illegal Counterfeit Products Sent from China through the Mail

This weekend, Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, appeared on FOX News and wrote an op-ed for the Financial Times discussing the dangers posed by counterfeit goods sent from China to the U.S. through the global postal system. At a recent visit to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection international mail facility at JFK Airport in New York, Navarro observed the extensive amount of “illegal drugs, counterfeit goods and prohibited agriculture items intercepted daily.”

In an interview with FOX News’ Maria Bartiromo, Navarro warned of the serious health, security and economic risks posed by counterfeits, noting that fake drugs, weapons and other goods can hurt American consumers and “defraud you… burn your house down, kill you.” And in his Financial Times column, Navarro noted that 85 percent of counterfeits seized in the U.S. come from China, and that IP theft from the country costs our economy between $225 and $600 billion every year.

With the global postal system serving as the key pipeline for dangerous counterfeit and drug shipments to the U.S., it is crucial that the U.S. government acts to close loopholes that allow traffickers to send illegal material through the mail undetected by law enforcement. To combat this pipeline, President Trump signed the bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act into law in 2018. This law was designed to close a major loophole by requiring advanced electronic data (AED) on all foreign packages delivered to the U.S. by mail, as was already required for packages sent through private carriers. As a recent bipartisan report from the Senate Finance Committee notes, AED is useful for targeting and preventing counterfeit goods.

The fight to keep our communities safe from these dangers is not over. Although the STOP Act includes clear deadlines for comprehensive AED, federal agencies have missed these requirements even as counterfeit goods continue to flow into the U.S. For the Trump administration to succeed in its efforts and stem counterfeits, it’s crucial that Congress enforces its oversight responsibilities and holds federal agencies responsible for meeting the STOP Act’s requirements. 

The STOP Act must be enforced to its fullest extent to keep all Americans safe. While the Trump administration’s executive order cracking down on the sale of counterfeit goods online is a promising step, it will not be effective without accompanying AED enforcement.

An excerpt from Peter Navarro’s FOX News interview is below, and the full transcript can be seen here. Navarro’s Financial Times op-ed can be read here, with excerpts below.

Peter Navarro on FOX News:  

BARTIROMO: We’re back with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who just came off of a visit to JFK.

Peter, tell us what you saw at JFK, when you witnessed all of these counterfeit…


BARTIROMO: … products coming into America.

NAVARRO: Oh, I saw great Americans out there trying to stem this flow of counterfeits.

It’s a thing called Operation Mega Flex, which the White House has been coordinating with Customs and Border Protection. What we do once a month is look under the hood of thousands of packages from China.

And I’m telling you, Maria, this is a horror show. What I learned is two things, that China is the great counterfeiter of the world, and Amazon and eBay and these e-commerce platforms are the great counterfeit enablers.

I saw – saw stuff, a bunch of counterfeits that defraud you, but could burn your house down, kill you. I saw fentanyl on the table that had been seized within the last 24 hours, gun silencers, a whole pile of fake driver’s licenses, and cancer drugs that people are paying thousands of dollars for that have no active ingredients for.

And these packages, there’s a million a day, Maria, a million packages a day by air from China. About 10 percent of those, we’re finding, have contraband in them. And that means 100,000 Americans every single day are subject to fraud from China through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Alibaba, eBay.

Financial Times: US: don’t give China control of intellectual property group

“When patents and trade secrets are stolen, counterfeit goods are produced and traded openly. Trademarks are infringed. Competition is stymied. Revenues diminish. Governments, businesses and consumers all lose.  International IP rules underpin the innovation economy.

… China is responsible for 85 per cent of counterfeits seized by US border officials; and Chinese IP theft costs the American economy between $225bn and $600bn annually. IP infringements cost European firms billions of euros each year.